Our family recently took a weekend trip to Houston–my husband had a singing competition, and I knew the girls and I would be spending a lot of time in our hotel room. (It was raining, the hotel was located in an industrial area surrounded by a construction zone, and we wanted to be available to spend time with our favorite tenor during his breaks–so we didn’t “day-trip” much on this getaway.)
Before we left, I packed a tote bag full of our (current) favorite Discovery Toys. Each item had to meet the following criteria:
- Open-ended, with multiple ways to play for both our preschooler and our 1st grader.
- Compact and easily contained.
- Easy to share.
There were times throughout the weekend when each girl needed to bring ONE activity with her down to the conference center (attached to the hotel) for one of the competition’s public shows. It was important to me that all loose pieces could quickly be picked up and moved to another location–something that my girls are already pretty good at!
Here’s what we brought:
(Note: I am a Discovery Toys Educational Consultant, so this post does include direct links to my online shop. Please let me know if you need specific recommendations; I’d love to help!)
Exact Change (all ages)
Exact Change combines an excellent teaching lesson with fun, fast paced action that the entire family will love. The goal is to play all of your cards first. You can discard cards by matching the color of the last card played, by matching the currency value (eg. play a penny on a penny), or by making EXACT CHANGE. Making exact change allows you to discard multiple cards that add up to the value of the last card played. For example, if the last card played shows a quarter, you can make exact change by playing two dimes and a nickel- allowing you to discard three cards in one play! (Our littlest girl matches the color or number without worrying about making change.)
Giant Pegboard & rubber band ball (19 months and up)
Side one features a pegboard for sorting, stacking, counting, and matching the 25 easy-to-grasp pegs of various sizes and colors; the flip side features a raised peg geoboard for creating geometric designs. Updated set includes 12 two-sided pattern cards, with activities for both sides of the board! (Both girls had a great time making designs and letters on the pegboard side all weekend long. Our colorful rubber bands (purchased separately) added an extra layer of patterning fun!)
It’s a Match! Deluxe Set (recommended for ages 3+)
Self-checking learning system designed exclusively for preschoolers. Snap the colored frames onto the answers, then pull down the tray to check the results. If the color of the frame and square are the same, it’s a match! (Our preschooler LOVES this one!)
Playful Patterns (recommended for ages 4+)
An early childhood pre-math and pre-reading learning center in an heirloom wooden box, made of durable eco-friendly materials. Logic and spatial thinking will blossom with the 132 wooden geometric shapes and 34 progressively challenging designs. Match the design cards or create your own open-ended patterns and images.Box can double as self-contained work space. More activities included. Box and shapes made of beechwood and water-based paints. Labels and pattern cards printed with soy based inks. (We recently purchased this beautiful wooden set–our previous set contained foam pieces. I love all the discussion about colors and shapes that develops while doing this activity together. Plus, more than one child can build a design at the same time!)
Tac-Tiles (recommended for ages 3+)
Touch & guess: Is it a star, a submarine, a koala bear, or perhaps a guitar? Boost visual AND tactile skills, critical thinking and memory with this hands-on set of wood tile frames and matching shapes. This versatile set features 32 fun, familiar shapes, 32 matching tiles with the shape punched out, and a canvas draw-string bag. Have a blast identifying objects by touch alone, sorting by feature, or tracing. Play alone or with friends. (This incredible toy fits all of my trip criteria–it’s our go-to traveling activity!)
What toys do you like to take on a trip?